The Minister welcomed the European Union’s Commissioner for Energy, Andris Piebalgs and the Minister of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan, TD, to the industry event where they officially launched the new Single Electricity Market.
Minister Dodds said: “The start of the Single Electricity Market represents a new phase in Northern Ireland’s relationship with Europe. The new market is the first of its kind and puts Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic at the forefront of action to develop an Internal Energy Market across Europe. It will lead to closer harmonisation with the market in Great Britain and assist the development of a United Kingdom – Republic of Ireland – France reciprocal electricity market.
“Commissioner Piebalgs is a robust champion of competition across the European Union’s electricity and gas markets. I welcome his strong support for the creation of this competitive Single Electricity Market, which is a stepping stone towards harmonised regional electricity markets through the EU. This will bring long term benefits to consumers.”
The Minister continued: “One of the biggest challenges confronting every European economy is the securing of sustainable, competitive electricity supplies. By working with the Irish Republic to deliver the new market we are meeting that challenge.”
The market is already encouraging interest from new investors. One of the leading UK energy companies, Scottish and Southern Energy has applied for licences to generate and sell electricity in the new market.
The Minister said: “The SEM is just one sign of how Northern Ireland’s energy landscape is changing and the future energy mix must make much greater use of sustainable energy resources available in both jurisdictions.”
He continued: “There is huge potential to use sustainable energy, not only to tackle climate change, but also to support a dynamic and innovative local economy. At present, half of our energy is consumed by domestic users and private transport, and demand is continuing to increase. We need to encourage a change of mind set and attitude from our present wasteful use of energy to one of energy conservation. There is no silver bullet solution to this energy challenge.
“Sustainable development cuts across all areas of Northern Ireland’s Government. I am keen to encourage a holistic approach to Northern Ireland’s sustainable energy services in the future, especially if we are to get the behavioural changes that are needed.”
The Minister concluded: “We will continue to explore how we can maximise the benefits for consumers from closer regional energy cooperation with the rest of the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic.”